Medical Assistant Programs in Wisconsin
A medical assistant is not a nurse, though she may be thought to be one by the child who gets a finger prick (and the warning that the procedure may hurt just a little bit). Nurses and medical assistants share some job responsibilities. Both provide basic health care and, yes, sometimes reassurance. What is the distinction then between the two? Nurses have broader medical training which includes invasive procedures -- the medical assistant may prick your finger, but probably won’t insert an IV into a vein. Nurses also have more training in professional decision making and ethics. Consequently, they are licensed by the state, and those who excel in the field may move up to clinical supervision duties. Medical assistants have other perks. Medical assistants in Wisconsin sometimes cite daytime work hours and doctors’ office work settings as reasons they like their job. They are the only healthcare support workers trained particularly for ambulatory settings. MAs have quite a range of clinical and clerical tasks, and may spend their days doing everything from taking vital signs to ordering office supplies.
While education for a medical assistant is not as extensive as that for a nurse, those who want to take national board examinations need a broad knowledge of both clinical and administrative medical duties.
Medical Assistant Certification in Wisconsin
The legal status of medical assistants have sometimes been called into question, but thankfully the issue has been resolved. Wisconsin Statute 448.03 grants medical assistants the right to provide patient services as supervised and directed by a physician or podiatrist. Employers in Wisconsin, it should be noted, often do desire national board certification. Generally the first step is to enroll in an accredited program at the certificate or associate’s level, though those who have been in the field five or more years, or have had training through the military, can sometimes skip this step. The course sequence for clinical training will include core medical courses, procedural training, and field training. Among the clinical duties that must be mastered are diagnostic testing, sterilization techniques, lab techniques, and preparation of the examination area. Among the administrative duties, one finds managing appointments, organizing records, processing credit balances, and performing diagnostic and procedural coding.
Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook in Wisconsin
Wisconsin medical assistants can find employment and educational resources through the state branches of AAMA and AMT. Wisconsin has a very activity AAMA state association with thirteen chapters -- among the most in the nation. The Wisconsin State Society, a division of AAMA, holds an annual meeting. The next, an officer confirms, will be held in Waupaca in April of 2011.
What can an MA hope to earn? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average income for Wisconsin of $30,310 a year or $14.57 an hour. Medical assistants in the college town of Madison earn the highest incomes, averaging $32,260. Those in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Racine, and Wausau also have annual incomes above the $30,000 mark. Green Bay is at $28,950 and Eau Claire $29,690. Wages do typically go up slightly with years on the job. According to AAMA, medical assistants in the East North Central region of the country who have been in the field three to five years earn about a dollar more per hour than those who are newer.
There are additional opportunities for high achievers. What about the medical assistant who wants to advance? The advice on the forums at Indeed.com is to take CEUs in specialty areas like cardiology or OB. Across the nation, MAs in specialty settings tend to earn more. Another option, for those with skills in the front office, is to go into healthcare management or medical billing and coding.
Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State
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